Rating: ★★+.5 | 1/30/2018 | 384 pages | Harlequin | Contemporary | Whiskey Sharp #1
After Maybe Dolan’s older sister survives a horrific ordeal they move to Seattle for a new beginning. With the referral from their neighbor Maybe applies for a job at Whiskey Sharp, a downtown barber shop and whiskey bar. The proprietor, Russian immigrant Alexsei Petrov, isn’t sure the spirited,chatty girl with a lip ring and punk rock attitude is a right fit for his business. But two years later Maybe’s made a place for herself in the shop and and now that Alexsei’s engagement is over he wonders if she can also find a place in his heart.
I really like Lauren Dane, when I first started reading romance she was one of the few white authors including heroines of color into her series and I really liked the interview she gave onSmart Podcasts, Trashy Books about female friendships in romance but, woo, this romance just did not work for me. Dane had this tendency to have these dense emotional internal dialogues that straight up bored me at some moments.
I love some good competency porn and was really hoping for some rich details about how this whiskey bar and barber shop operates but the barbershop is treated somewhat incidentally. We don’t know how or why Alexsei decided to open the shop or get into how the other employees feel about this workplace relationship. In fact as I’m re-reading the ARC for the review I realize they never even mention Maybe having a barbershop license or why she can cut men’s hair.
What almost turned this book into a DNF for me was the conflict between Maybe’s emotionally abusive father. For some reason the book doesn’t reveal Maybe’s sister’s entire backstory until 43% so I won’t say too much, but basically her Dad is mad at Maybe for taking her older sister away from them. He was just straight up evil to Maybe and there are several scenes of him being verbally abusive towards her and after a while it wasn’t enjoyable to read and the scenes never lead to anything.
All that said Dane does deliver on what she preaches about female friendships, there is a lot of female characters checking in on each other and Maybe and her sister have a great relationship but I think Dane is more interested in her character’s deep emotional inventories as a writer than I am as a reader.
The first book in the Whiskey Sharp series went a little sour for me and not in a good way.
*ARC received from NetGalley